‘Changing lives’: Carlow, WCCC deal aims to widen path to college degree
The presidents of Carlow University and Westmoreland County Community College are both from Show Me State, and perhaps Missouri’s attitude is reflected in the palpable efforts of higher education institutions to support students. .
The institutions recently reached a dual agreement that will allow students to enroll in Carlow and WCCC simultaneously. The agreement aims to increase accessibility and promote affordability.
“It’s not just a partnership; it’s about changing lives,” Carlow President Kathy Humphrey said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony last week at WCCC’s Hempfield campus. “And when we change lives, we change generations. And when we change generations, we change the world in which we live.
Students choosing this route will be both Carlow and WCCC students, according to WCCC President Tuesday Stanley. As they earn their WCCC associate degrees, students can enroll in four Carlow classes while paying WCCC tuition.
Students can then easily transfer to Carlow for their bachelor’s degrees. Many Carlow courses will be available on the WCCC campus.
The agreement comes as more and more students struggle to afford higher education. Between 2011 and 2021, average tuition fees increased by 10%, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. And the University of Chicago found that Americans rate cost as the biggest barrier to earning a college degree.
These facts make this partnership a “differentiator” in Stanley’s mind.
“So many of our students…are struggling to raise the funds (to afford higher education),” she said.
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Carlow and WCCC have worked together to support students since 2005. Prior to the announcement of the 2022 agreement, four of Carlow’s programs – Family Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, Early Childhood Education, and Early Development and Learning – could be fully or partially won at the WCCC.
The roots of WCCC and Carlow run deep in Charlene Frock’s family. Charlene, who ran the Frock Childcare Learning Center in Mt. Pleasant for nearly 24 years, earned her associate degree at WCCC in 2010. Two years later, she earned her bachelor’s degree after taking courses in Carlow at the university’s Greensburg satellite campus, which later moved to WCCC.
Less than a decade later, Charlene’s daughter, Chelseylynn Frock, followed the same path. Both mother and daughter were valedictorians of their Carlow classes.
“If it wasn’t for the convenience and the support system through WCCC and Carlow, I wouldn’t be able to complete my education,” said Charlene Frock.
The deal announced last week was done in partnership with the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce. House Speaker Dan DeBone compared the excitement over the deal to the excitement Steelers fans showed when rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett made his NFL debut.
DeBone expects this agreement to drive economic growth, workforce development and community engagement in the county.
“Most importantly, this partnership is a perfect example of reinvesting in our most important asset, which is our employees and the communities in which they live,” he said.
Sister Sheila Carney, special assistant to the president of Carlow, prayed for a blessing on the deal. Carney pointed out that the Sisters of Mercy, who founded Carlow University, have ties to Westmoreland dating back to 1847.
She believes that this agreement contributes to the task of the two institutions to “enrich the educational landscape” of the region.
“It’s a worthy task, and we ask our God to watch over everyone involved,” Carney said.